Replace Rear Quarter Vent Window

The Ford Windstar has rear side windows that open a small portion either manually or with an electric motor controlled by the driver with the other power windows switches on the door.  These windows are mounted only by two bolts at the front edge which rests on a piece of rubber, and the hinge bolt at the back.  To compound manners, the alignment of the large side doors in front of this window can leave the lip of it caught in the windstream which causes it to lift a bit.  In a recent windstorm i was hit by a 60 mile an hour wind, and when I turned so that it was a my side, I got hit by a stream of pebbles and the window blew out.

That’s right.  My Ford Windstar’s rear side vent window blew out in a wind storm.  Have you ever heard of that before?  Would you think that could happen to your vehicle?  It makes me a little nervous considering I ride with young children in the car, and I can only be thankful no one was sitting in the rear seats when this happened.

I suspect that due to the mounting points of the window, along with some concerns of the placement of some of the interior trim, that this could happen to any of the Windstars out there given the right conditions.

Buying a used rear vent window

It isn’t hard to replace one of these windows, and finding one at a wrecker should be easy because there are a fair number of Windstars in the junk yards.    Here’s my tips on buying used windstar glass from a wrecker:

  • Buy locally and ask to inspect the glass before you purchase it.  Don’t settle for scratches.  Be picky.
  • Price out a new one first.  This gives you some bargaining power.
  • If they don’t budge on price ask them to throw in the power window motor.  These are high failure items and you might as well replace it while the window is out

Replacing the rear vent window

Remove the rear plastic around the rear and middle seat belt shoulder adjusters.  These have to come off, and they use two different wrenches, one of which is a torx.  Also make sure you are careful removing the seat belt covers as they hinge on plastic and break easily. Once those are off you’ll find the upper trim is just connected with clips.  A pair of screwdrivers, one of each side of a clip help to pop them out.  Use a thin screwdriver to probe and help you locate the clips.

Once you get those off you’ll probably have to remove the large lower trim that covers the wheel well and the rear passenger compartment.  This was fairly easy but your job is easier if you remove the rear carpet trim place and the side carpet trim plate.  You’ll also need to be careful lifting it over the lower seatbelt mounting points.

If you’ve removed the side that contains the rear heater and air conditioner, you’ll also need to remove the upper air duct because the window bolts are behind it.  This isn’t a problem though, as it is only held on at the bottom by to phillips head plastic screws and the top if just slid inside a cardboard vent.

Once you can see the bolts you can loosen them off a bit so that you can work them with your fingers.  It may help to have an assisstant here holding the window from the outside.  Hold from the bottom so it doesn’t fall, and push in on it so it doesn’t swing out.  There is a small clip on the attachment to the electric motor that needs to be removed using a small tool such as a flat screwdriver.  Don’t lose it!  Once you remove it, the ball hinge will separate from the window.

Now that the mounting is loose and your assistant is holding on to the window, you can finishing removing the two mounting nuts toward the front of the vehicle and have your assistant pull the window out.

At this point it may be a good idea to loosen the nuts on the power window motor as it is part of the window adjustment.  If you are removing it, do that now, other wise consider loosening the bolts for the purpose of adjustment later.

Clean your salvaged window now before you put it in, and clean the opening around the window because it will be the only time you get to do this.  If you need to do any work on the power door track this is also a good time.

One thing to note is that the holes in the sheet metal where the window mount may be indented.  I found that on my Windstar.  After test fitting the window we noticed that it seems to be a crude method of adjusting the leading edge of the window to keep from protruding beyond the door glass in front.  I wouldn’t recommend this as a place to do fine adjustments for your window, and neither does the Ford Windstar repair manual.

After you’ve test fitted your window a few times, put it in and tighten up the front nuts finger tight.  Make sure your assistant is holding the window so it doesn’t swing out too far.  You may need to adjust the position of the window motor using the open/close switch on the drivers door to get it into a position where it will reach again.  Once you do that, attach the clip.  Now test the motor a few times and make sure it opens and closes as expected.

Walk around the outside of the window and inspect the gap to ensure it is even all the way around.  Have the assistant adjust the glass from the outside very gently until it is.  Then with window in closed position, have them press in on the back near the motor, and then proceed to tighten the motor bolts.  This should help you get a good fit at the back.

If you have issues at the front edge of the glass I’d suggest double checking the alignment of the door first because you don’t really have any adjustment on the rear window.  It it important that it doesn’t protrude too far so that it doesn’t get caught in the windstream which puts pressure on the glass which will cause at least an air/water leak and at most another shattered glass.

And there you have it.  That should help give you some basic tips on replacing the rear vent side glass on your Ford Windstar/Freestar!